David Brooks a New York Times columnist recently delivered a talk on TED (Technology, Entertainment, and Design) where he questions the merits of living for resume or eulogy. Brooks takes a good hard look at what it means to live for temporal success versus lasting legacy. Brooks is described as a journalist interested in “the social currents that underpin American life.” Brooks found the summary for his personal reflections in the writings of Joseph Soloveitchik, a rabbi and author, who Brooks goes on to cite in his TED Talk from one of Soloveitchik’s books entitled, “The Lonely Man of Faith”:
“Soloveitchik said there are two sides of our natures, which he called Adam I and Adam II. Adam I is the worldly, ambitious, external side of our nature. He wants to build, create, create companies, create innovation. Adam II is the humble side of our nature. Adam II wants not only to do good but to be good, to live in a way internally that honors God, creation and our possibilities. Adam I wants to conquer the world. Adam II wants to hear a calling and obey the world. Adam I savors accomplishment. Adam II savors inner consistency and strength. Adam I asks how things work. Adam II asks why we’re here. Adam I’s motto is “success.” Adam II’s motto is “love, redemption and return.”
It was this Adamic theme that caught my attention. Any student of Scripture can see some validity to Soloveitchik’s description. We do have two aspects as it were— what he calls Adam I and Adam II— however, Biblically speaking the believer does possess two aspects simultaneously, this is called the old man and the new man (Col. 3.9-10). For Brooks however, he finds solace in Soloveitchik’s description of man’s inner reality and the attempt to try and reconcile the ways in which man lives his life in a post Genesis 3 world. Sadly, Soloveitchik’s ambiguity and worldly wisdom make Brook’s reassurance futile and ultimately hopeless. Scripture says that there are in reality, only two ways to look at the world i.e. through the world’s wisdom (1 Cor. 1.21) or through the wisdom of God, the mind of God, the mind of Christ— a mind we as believers possess even now (1 Cor. 2.16).
Brooks goes on
in his TED Talk to speak of “redemption”; but one can only wonder what this redemption actually signifies. That is, in reality, after the eulogy is written and read, what “redemption” actually took place? If it was the redemption of our own philosophical musings, than this redemption is rooted in what Paul calls Stoicheion i.e. “the elemental things” or “the worthless elemental things” (cf. Gal. 4.9). Stoicheion refers to the basic teachings of man, the basic philosophical, religious, ethical principles of a humanistic worldview, that is, a world and life view devoid of God and His infinite wisdom (1 Cor. 1.18-20). This type of wisdom and worldview; or to use the language of Soloveitchik, “love, redemption and return” is actually rooted in fallen wisdom, humanistic thought and ultimately anti-Christ spirituality. True redemption is found only in the blood of Christ (Eph. 1.7), the cross of Christ (Gal. 3.13; Eph. 2.16), and ultimately in union with Christ himself realized through repentance and faith (1 Cor. 1.30).
TED is a brilliant organization filled with entrepreneurs, journalist, scientists, futurists, and tech gurus of every stripe; yet as for the eulogy of all of these great minds, true redemption can only be found in the finished work of Jesus Christ and not in the entrepreneurial spirit of the age. To use TED’s ultimate goal and mission slogan, “How can we best spread great ideas?” The best idea worth spreading is still the greatest story ever told namely, the redemptive grace of God in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Evangelistically therefore, we have not only the mind of Christ but also the message of Christ which happens to be the very wisdom of God. God’s wisdom in supremely displayed on the cross. This means the evangelist bears an awesome responsibility both to proclaim the message faithfully but also to proclaim the message urgently. The urgency of the message is rooted in the Stoicheion of the world which amounts to above all else not redemption, as Brooks supposes, but perdition. Sadly, unless David Brooks, and everyone else for that matter, looks to the “foolishness of God” and the “weakness of God” (1 Cor. 1.25) he will remain hopeless tricked by the worthless elementary philosophies of man’s fallen wisdom.
Emilio Ramos is the preaching pastor of Heritage Grace Community Church. Pastor Emilio is committed to the expository and exegetical teaching of the Word of God. Emilio is also the author of Convert, From Adam to Christ and the founder of redgracemedia.com- a media ministry devoted to the glory of God’s redemptive grace through Jesus Christ. He and his wife Trisha live in Dallas, TX.
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